#Reefgate, Joyce versus Husar and other scandals: The case for a federal ICAC

By | | comments |
Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons.

From Reefgate to the Banking Royal Commission and Joyce versus Husar to Cash and the AWU raids, the case for a Federal ICAC is comprehensive, writes John Passant.

JUSTICE IS BLIND, so the old saw goes.

It is certainly blind to the crimes and misdemeanours of our political and economic overlords, the one per cent.

Banking RC

The Financial Services Royal Commission continues to reveal the systemic theft of money from clients and superannuation contributors. Banks and retail superannuation funds, like most corporations, put profit first. Screwing billions from workers and small business clients is just a normal part of capitalism. 

What is not so normal is the comment by Kenneth Hayne, the Commissioner, to the effect that the action of NAB in charging for services that did not exist might be criminal. Will the Australian Federal Police raid the headquarters of the banks looking for evidence of wrongdoing? No. That, it seems, is an action the ruling elite reserve for unionists and whistleblowers.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his many loyal mainstream media supporters continue to ignore #Reefgate and the serious questions it raises about the $444 million in unsolicited funding he and Josh Frydenberg, Minister "for" the Environment, gave to not-for-profit charity, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF).   


Malcolm Turnbull is the preferred prime minister and the Coalition the preferred government of the one per cent — that group of capitalists who make the decisions about investment, production and employment that determine the course of our lives. This group would much prefer a muddling Malcolm to a Labor leader who will likely make some concessions to workers and the poor.

Will the Australian Federal Police raid the offices of the Prime Minister and Environment Minister or the headquarters of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to gather evidence of potential wrongdoing? To ask the question is to answer it.

Weasel words about this gift being "Government funding" rather than a procurement will not hide the fact this grant potentially broke the Government’s own rules. Although I am not a criminal lawyer, it may, in my view, be an abuse of public office, prosecutable under Section 142.2(1) of the Criminal Code. It is certainly worth investigating. Justice, after all, is blind, isn’t it?

The Auditor General is looking into the $444 million gift. In my dreams, I imagine this leading to criminal investigations and then possible prosecutions. Based on past experience, the wheels of justice will turn slowly, if they turn at all.

Michaelia Cash and the AWU raids

Remember Senator Michaelia Cash and the tipoff from her office to the media about the raid on the offices of the AWU? After nine months, Police referred evidence of possible criminal activity in relation to those raids to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

If a prosecution is eventually launched, will it be Michaelia, or a minion, in the spotlight? Might even the Prime Minister be implicated? A Federal ICAC, if it existed, might be able to get to the bottom of this.

I have some questions for the Prime Minister about the AWU raid affair, echoing his approach to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the media leaks about Member for Lindsay, Emma Husar. Malcolm Turnbull, what did you know about the raid and the leak of information to the press and when did you know it?

The Joyce/Campion affair 

Turnbull’s words can be turned against him in other circumstances. Take Member for New England Barnaby Joyce. You need to tell us, Mr Turnbull, what you knew and when about Joyce’s womanising and fondness for the drink?

Clearly, you knew well before the December 2017 by-election that Vikki Campion was already his partner and she was pregnant. And you, presumably, knew Joyce liked a drink well before then, but you let him continue as your Deputy Prime Minister, wreaking havoc on agriculture and water resources. Why did you and your supine media not tell us about Joyce’s disreputable behaviour – behaviour that impacts on matters of state – until after the by-election?

It shows the bankruptcy of the mainstream media that Sharri Markson won an award for "breaking" the Joyce affair and pregnancy stories, despite her report being filed more than two months after the by-election. This meant there was no potential harm done to Joyce’s re-election chances. It was published three and four months after Serkan Ozturk (in True Crimes Weekly) and Ross Jones (in Independent Australia) broke the stories about the affair and pregnancy, respectively. 

Joyce versus Husar

Compare the silence on Joyce before the by-election to the cacophony of innuendo, unproven assertions, bile and abuse from some of the mainstream media and the not-quite-mainstream media, against Husar. She is a Labor Party member, so anything that undermines the ALP and Shorten in the run-up to the next election seems to be fair game for much of the mainstream media. 

In a bonus for the MSM and the wannabe MSM, Husar is a woman — nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean? The independent report into the accusations against Husar found that there was no support for the claims of sexual harassment and sexualised conduct, or basis for her to resign. Too late — Husar had already announced she would not be re-contesting her seat at the next election.

Some in the media published unsupported sexual misconduct accusations and innuendo but refused to publish well-known facts about Joyce until well after the by-election for his seat. They trampled over Husar’s right to natural justice. They protected a powerful male conservative and destroyed a female Labor Party MP.

Barnaby has a sexual harassment claim against him. How is that WA National Party investigation into the almost six-month-old complaint against Joyce coming along, MSM and wannabes?

Maybe the Prime Minister could tell us or even set up an independent inquiry, as he proposed to do, spurred on by what we now know were often unsupported accusations against Husar? What is good enough for Husar is surely good enough for Joyce, eh Mr Turnbull?

Murray Darling Basin

According to Richard Beasley, SC Counsel Assisting South Australia’s Murray–Darling Basin Royal Commission, it may be that the Murray Darling Basin Authority has breached its own Water Act in developing and managing the Basin plan.

Should the AFP, MSM and Malcolm Turnbull not be investigating and publicising these potential breaches to see if someone could be in the docks for the possible failure to follow their own legislation?  

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd breached the Public Service Code of Conduct. His sole penalty for providing information to his IPA masters was his resignation.

Workplace deaths

Around 30 building workers are killed on the job each year in Australia, yet it is the unions who are pursued, for trying to make these workplaces safe. Not one of the bosses stealing wages from workers has been gaoled.

As I hope this very brief tour shows, the laws are designed by the rich and powerful to keep the rest of us in our place.

As Anatole France perceptively noted:

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.’

I can confidently predict that we will not see bank and retail superannuation fund CEOs, politicians or senior bureaucrats before the criminal courts for alleged breaches of the law.

It is the same the whole world overIt’s the rich wot gets the gravy, it’s the poor wot gets the blame.

A Federal ICAC would be a step in the right direction.

Read more by John Passant on his website En Passant or follow him on Twitter @JohnPassantSigned copies of John's first book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed(Ginninderra Press 2016), are available for purchase from the IA store HERE.

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Recent articles by John Passant
POEM: Together we must

Together we must   HE was three years old You killed him And 50 others ...  
Morrison Government takes fearmongering to another level

It was just another week of lies from the Morrison Government.  
Coalition ministers abandon the sinking ship

With news of yet more ministers retiring at the forthcoming election, it’s ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support Fearless Journalism

If you got something from this article, please consider making a one-off donation to support fearless journalism.

Single Donation


Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate